New IMI electrolyser boosts development of Sustainable Aviation Fuel

The University of Sheffield has bolstered its efforts to decarbonise the aviation industry by increasing its green hydrogen production capacity, following the successful commissioning of a new polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyser.

New IMI electrolyser boosts development of Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Designed and built by IMI Remosa, a subsidiary of IMI Critical Engineering, the new IMI VIVO electrolyser, will be used to research new low and zero-carbon fuels for use in commercial jet travel. It was supplied to the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Innovation Centre (SAF-IC) at the University’s Energy Innovation Centre in June 2023 and commissioned throughout the autumn and winter.  

With the IMI VIVO PEM electrolyser now fully operational, the SAF-IC has become the first centre in the UK with the capacity to produce, test, and validate new fuels from a single location.

Hydrogen partnership

As SAF-IC works closely with the neighbouring Translation Energy Research Centre (TERC), which has its own hydrogen-generating capabilities, the University of Sheffield is now the biggest producer of green hydrogen of any UK university. It can produce nearly 140Nm3 of green hydrogen per hour, and store up to 1450Nm3 – equivalent to the electricity required to power 200 homes.

Jackie Hu, CEO of Automation at IMI, commented: “Aviation is among one of the most challenging sectors to decarbonise, however the work undertaken by the University of Sheffield and its SAF-IC is critical to moving the sector away from wholly relying on fossil fuels.

“The Centre is already among the leading producers of green hydrogen in the UK, and we are incredibly proud the team have chosen to partner with IMI Remosa to continue their incredibly valuable research into resolving ones of transport’s largest sustainability challenges.”

The company’s new PEM electrolyser uses a turnkey configuration, including a low-pressure storage system that was adapted for the university’s research. The green hydrogen it produces can replace natural gas, which will further aid the university’s work into industrial decarbonisation and encourage further fuel switching in other sectors.

As Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Head of the University of Sheffield’s Energy Institute, explains: “We are thrilled to have the capacity to produce the highest volume of green hydrogen of any UK university so that our research and development into SAF, industrial fuel switching, and decarbonisation can continue. As one of IMI Remosa’s first major customers, we have found the team to be excellent partners and delivery has been very efficient.”

He adds: “In order to effectively phase out fossil fuels where we can, more research into the possibilities and capabilities of green hydrogen must be conducted. The PEM electrolyser will allow us at the SAF-IC to work more closely with industry and fellow academics to discover and demonstrate how best to create both a hydrogen economy and a greener future.”